Instead of focusing on whether to be a seeker-friendly or a social justice church, pastors should focus on building a Christian community like in Acts 2, said church planter Darrin Patrick.
The community as seen in Acts 2: 42-47 is "church as it was, as it should be, and what it could be," said Patrick, pastor of The Journey in St. Louis, Mo., at the Church Planter Acts 29 National Boot Camp in Seattle on Wednesday.
"You are very ordinary, very simple, we are broken people. [But] God does amazing things through us when we allow the holy spirit to influence and control our lives," Patrick said. "And that is exactly what happens in the book of Acts."
He noted, "So the main character in the book of Acts is not Peter and it's not Paul. Who is it? It is the holy spirit who is literally birthing the church."
It is through this community of people who have the holy spirit that mission naturally comes out and churches are planted, Patrick said at the Seattle megachurch Mars Hill, which hosted the two-day event.
The conference, organized by the Acts 29 Church Planting Network, focuses on the vision of church planting, the calling of the planter, the mandate to multiply churches and the theological foundation for Gospel-centered church planting. Patrick serves as the network's vice president.
During Wednesday evening's message, Patrick explained biblically why a community is so important. In the beginning of the book of Genesis, God said it is good after each step in creation. But the first time in the history of the world that God said it is not good was when He saw that Adam was alone. God did not say it is not good because Adam is not good, but because Adam cannot have a relationship by himself and thus cannot reflect God by himself, Patrick explained.
"Like creation, human beings were created to reflect who God is. And by himself Adam could not reflect the multi-personal, relational nature of God," said the Acts 29 vice president.
He stated that Christianity is different from every other religion regarding this point. In every other religion there is an impersonal God and thus human relations is secondary or peripheral. But in Christianity there is a triune God, who is "co-eternal, co-equal, in a relationship forever."
"The reason why human being apart from the community is not good is because we are made in the image of God," Patrick said. "We can only reflect the triune God when we are in deep, abiding relationships."
"Our model for community is not our frat buddies, our sorority sisters," he said. "Our model for community is God Himself."
To guide church planters, Patrick gave them a formula on how to build a community:
GL (Gospel Life) + RR (Relational Rent) + GC (Gospel Clarity) = MI (Missional Impact)
A community where members live a Gospel life, build relationship with non-Christians, and have the ability to communicate the Gospel clearly will have a missional impact.
"When people are loving each other well and doing community there will be mission," stated Patrick, whose church runs eight services on four campuses and continues to aggressively plants new campuses in the St. Louis region.
Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill, will deliver a message entitled, "The Historical Message: Christ-Centered, Sin Exposing & Idol Shattering," Thursday morning,
Patrick and Driscoll's churches are part of the Acts 29 Network, which is made up of churches in the United States that want to see God move again through believers going out and planting churches like in the book of Acts.